Really? As a California child of the sixties, the only exposure I ever had to a Scotsman was Scotty, the chief engineer in the television series Star Trek. I loved his accent, of course, and I always enjoyed his comebacks:
“Diplomats! The best diplomat I know is a fully activated phaser bank.” – Scotty, Star Trek/”A Taste of Armageddon”
From Scotty, I learned that Scotsmen have a fondness for Scotch, and they use words like ‘wee’ and ‘aye’ a lot. Later on, the Highlander movies and series came along, and I discovered Scottish Immortals run around with long swords, cutting other Immortals’ heads off because “There Can Be Only One.”
I’ve never been to Scotland to confirm whether or not every Scotsman has a flask of Scotch hidden under his kilt. But with an ancestral name of ‘Scott’ in my immediate background, I’ve always been curious as to why the Scottish people have excited so many colorful stereotypes.
So I’ve brought in an expert.
Author Cathie Dunn (Highland Arms) is a real, authentic resident of Edinburgh, Scotland. She writes historical fiction and romantic adventure, and is a true expert in All Things Scottish. She’s graciously consented (Aye!) to answer a few questions about Scotsmen.
Q: Cathie, is there any truth to the stereotypes about Scotsmen? Are they really a wild bunch of red-shirted, kilt-wearing, Scotch-drinking, sword-wielding, overly-emotional men?
Oh, I wish! 😉
In reality, you see Scotsmen wearing kilts only on special occasions, be it at weddings, ceilidhs, family dinners and Scottish rugby or football matches.
Fortunately, in Edinburgh – Scotland’s capital city – you often spot a kilted man as there are always occasions where musicians gather or special events take place. Usually, those men wear the formal ‘Prince Charlie’ outfit – a kilt in clan tartan, a short black jacket (open at the front), black vest, tie or bow tie, white shirt, cream (or sometimes black) socks and those uncomfortable brogues which my husband (half Scots, half English) hates.
Finish it off with a stylish buckle on your belt, a good quality sporran, a skean dhu peeking out from a sock (a dirk, only allowed for ceremonial purposes!) and a fetching kilt pin.
During sporting matches, you see many men – young and older – wearing comfortable kilts with t-shirts and sturdy hiking boots. Not an emotional lot, but fiercely protective of their heritage.
Now, personally, I like both! The formal look is very dashing, while the informal gathering of young kilted men is always eye-catching. 😉
As for drink, yes, Scots like their whisky (without an ‘e’!), however, they’re also partial to ales and there are many local breweries producing delicious ales. Funnily enough, our own first experience with a local Edinburgh beer was in a bar in Vancouver, Canada (twinned with Edinburgh)! How could we have missed it after 5 years in the Scottish capital? Only select pubs stock it!
Swords? Nah! Haven’t seen any other than in museums. Some stunning claymores, broadswords and short swords are exhibited in the National Museum of Scotland. I’d love a claymore to hang over our fireplace but we’d need a special permission as weapons are not permitted in Scotland. One day…
Q: Tell us a few things about Scotsmen that might surprise us.
Well, now that we’ve debunked the myth that all Scotsmen run around in kilts (sob!), there aren’t many big differences to other British men on a normal day.
Scots like their pint or two in the pub and take the family out on Sundays for a pub meal or wander. They are passionate about golf, rugby and football. With golf courses pretty much on every corner – many located in stunning settings – Scots love spending time on the green.
A very friendly, if sometimes brash, bunch.
Q: Who is your favorite fictional Scottish character?
Well, apart from Rory from Highland Arms (I’m biased!) I love Jamie from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. He’s such a strong character; tall, handsome and proud! I like that in a man…
(Aye, I like it too! – S.G. Rogers chimes in.)
Q: Finally, please give us a few common phrases you hear everyday in Scotland. (I’d love to be able to impress my friends.)
Edinburgh locals speak more clearly to non-locals, partly due to the large number of residents (including students) from other areas of Britain and abroad, like me. However, you can always eavesdrop… and discover quite a few gems. I used to live in Aberdeen in the north-east where dialects are different, much stronger, and I know Edinburgh locals who don’t understand Aberdonians. I do. Now! 😉
Scottish Phrases you might hear in places…
Lang may yer lum reek! (Live long and happily!)
Pit yer hon there! (Shake my hand!)
Awa wi ye! (You are kidding me!)
More fancy phrases: http://www.scotland-welcomes-you.com/scottish_sayings.html
Thank you, Cathie, for being my guest today. It’s been a real eye-opener!
– S.G. Rogers
Betrayed by her brother’s lies, Catriona MacKenzie is banished from her Edinburgh home to her godmother’s remote manor in the Highlands. While her father ponders her fate, Catriona’s insatiable curiosity leads her straight into trouble–and into the arms of a notorious Highlander.
Five years after an ill-fated Jacobite rebellion, Rory Cameron works as a smuggler to raise money for the cause–until Catriona uncovers a plot against him and exposes his activities. Now Rory is faced with a decision that could save their lives or destroy them both.
Intrigued, any thought of detection forgotten, Catriona let her gaze drift over him, taking in his worn kilt and plaid. The light-brown linen shirt gaped open at the neck, revealing a soft sprinkling of hair on bronzed skin; his sleeves rolled up over strong, muscled arms. His bearings put him above the other men in status but his body proved him to be a man of the out-of-doors. To her surprise, his chin was not covered with an unkempt beard—like his companions’ shaggy faces—but only bore a hint of stubble. Here was a man who shaved regularly.
Catriona’s mind whirled as she let her gaze wander further across his ruggedly handsome features. His open face with strong cheekbones and wide-set eyes spoke of power, a forceful character. Dark blond hair, glowing in the light of the tallow candles, was tied back at the nape of his neck. Most certainly he was not a drover. But why was he sharing their whisky? He piqued her curiosity and, in the absence of any other form of entertainment in this bare inn, she found herself fascinated.
When he glanced up from his cup, their eyes met. They held for a moment that stretched like eternity. His, a vibrant green that sparkled across the smoky room, mocked her apparent interest. Caught in the act, she blushed and quickly busied herself adjusting the folds of her dress before extending her hands to the fire, thereby turning her back to the room. How obvious her scrutiny had been! Her cheeks flamed, and not just from the heat of the fire.
Cathie on the web: